There may be compelling reasons why Lake Placid’s school board continues to stand behind embattled Superintendent Randy Richards. It would behoove all concerned for the board to explain those reasons to the public, because, on the face of it, the situation does not add up.
To his credit, Board President Phil Baumbach recently provided us with a rationale for keeping Richards on the payroll. It doesn’t strike us as compelling, but it’s better than silence.
“First and foremost, Randy Richards is a responsible guy,” Baumbach said. “He’s been able to provide a good budget for the voters, he’s keeping the academic programs going, and he’s doing this at a very challenging time. We’ve heard what the community has said, but we feel that Randy is moving the school forward ... In any community there will always be differences.”
Baumbach’s comments are a start, but seem unlikely to satisfy the crowds that attend board meetings. Creating a responsible budget for the voters and moving a school forward is the minimum that a school superintendent should do.
If you haven’t been following this story, here’s an abridged version: Richards has admitted to using language that is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable, particularly when one considers the setting and context in which the offensive terms were used.
After that, Lake Placid’s high school principal, Katherine Mulderig — one woman at the receiving end of Richards’ derogatory remarks — filed a gender discrimination complaint against Richards.
As has been widely reported, the Equal Opportunity Employment Coalition eventually found that the principal had standing for her claims that Richards engaged in gender discrimination, retaliation, and the creation of a hostile work environment.
Mulderig’s peculiar recent exit from the scene adds another wrinkle to the mess.
People in Lake Placid and Wilmington are outraged. Taxpayers line up at packed school board meetings (which are now necessarily held in a much larger room) to give the powers that be a dose of their ire, voices shaking with emotion — and receive sustained applause from the crowd.
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